Arcadia tycoon Sir Philip Green faced further criticism over the weekend about allegations of sexual harassment and bullying.
Green, who has rejected the claims, said that he had only ever engaged in “banter” with those who worked for him.
Former friends of Green such as X Factor impresario Simon Cowell have distanced themselves from the billionaire, while campaigners have called for a boycott of Arcadia’s outlets, such as Topshop, and for pop star Beyoncé to end her business partnership with him.
The governance of Arcadia under former and present chairs Lord Grabiner and Karren Brady also came under attack.
Former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann claimed in a column for the Daily Mail that Green had ‘bullied’ her with text messages in the aftermath of the collapse of BHS in 2016.
She wrote: “Green treated both me and the head of The Pensions Regulator – another woman – in a menacing manner that was wholly unacceptable.
“For me this was first-hand experience of a man behaving in a way that I believe was more aggressive and more intrusive than if I had been another powerful man.”
Green defended himself in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, in which he said he had only ever engaged in “banter” with employees and had endured “the worst week of my life”.
He said: “I’m very, very, very upset. I’m being used as target practice when there is zero [evidence] that anyone has turned up with. It’s injuring my business, all the people potentially working in the business, and it’s injuring me and my family.
“I’ve been in business for more than 40 years. There has obviously from time to time been some banter, but as far as I’m concerned that’s never been offensive.
“I’ve got a good relationship with all my staff. In all that time, until the recent issues, I’ve not had one litigation or complaint.
“If anything I’ve said has caused offence, I’m happy to apologise. Nothing I’ve said was ever meant to be offensive.
“Many people have worked for the family for many years and I’ve never had any problems.”
Green was engulfed in the row after Lord Peter Hain named him under parliamentary privilege as the businessman at the centre of a Daily Telegraph story. A court injunction prevents the newspaper from naming the businessman concerned.